By Tracie Utter
One of the best training seminars I have attended as a professional organizer is, “Organizing the ADHD Brain (advanced level)” by Ari Tuckman, PsyD, MBA. He stated, “ADHD is fundamentally an information processing disorder.” I concur with that statement 100%. I have been organizing professionally over the last 10 years, more of my client have ADHD than not so I have learned a lot.
In my opinion, clients with ADHD fall on a continuum (this is imaginary, I made this up)…those that fall on the right struggle with organizing in every area of their life; those on the left, not to the same degree. Most of the population falls some place in-between:
Lesser ADHD …………………………………………………………………Extreme ADHD
Organizing issues are annoying Getting organized is unattainable
Where clients fall helps me determine how to solve their organizing challenges. Clients with ADHD need lots of ideas, one size does not fit all. ADHD requires my highest skills as an organizer which is where I excel. In my opinion, ADHD provides more challenges than low level hoarding.
Dr. Tuckman provides many solutions to manage ADHD in his publications (I think he lives in West Chester, PA if you are lucky enough to get an appointment). As an organizer, I cannot solve ADHD. It is a medical condition that needs to be diagnosed, treated with medication (if appropriate), and dealt with. I can teach skills which help to compensate when clients lack certain abilities to organize themselves. Please be clear, that is exactly what my extreme ADHD clients have to do: learn how to organize based on their abilities. And, they have to stop beating themselves up because they do not possess the cognitive ability of a highly organized thinker. Their brain functions differently which is the way they were born (although I have no medical data to support this statement, it is an observation on my part). There is nothing wrong with that unless they ignore their inabilities and try to function in a manner that does not compliment their thinking style.
How successful are my ADHD clients at getting organized? It varies…of course. Getting and staying organized takes commitment.
🙂 I have worked with individuals that are immensely motivated and able achieve their goals. They needed guidance on what to do and how to do it, and then I helped with implementation. They tended to stay more organized when deadlines were involved and someone held them accountable, maybe me, maybe a spouse.
🙁 I have worked with others that get frustrated because I cannot solve their issues within two appointments. Their expectations of my abilities and their own were unreasonable.
Strategies of successful clients:
- Limit distractions (kids need to go to daycare)
- Get rid of excess (the more stuff you have, the more distracted you get)
- Have a helper (paid or free, make sure they have the skill set to help)
- Use technology (even if it just a timer)
- Plan (write down your plan)